What to Remember When Your “Not-Best” Self Shows Up

I am not my best self in the morning. Sadly, this “not-best” version of myself must still carpool during morning rush hour traffic—a setup for the perfect storm.

(Image from Pixabay)

I lugged my “not-best” self into the car and noticed my son Jon’s anxiety was high. Anxiety is one of his most difficult challenges. He is rarely free of feeling worried or scared.

Before leaving the driveway, his questions started. Now, I’ve heard all these questions before and have answered them many times.

However, when a change comes or an upcoming event looms, the questions reflect Jon’s heightened anxiety, not an “Oh, that’s right; I forgot” response.

I tried to answer his questions with kindness, knowing my tone was vitally important to prevent his anxiety escalating. I tried to maintain my loving, understanding tone and employed coping skills to reduce his anxiety.

Here’s the kicker . . . Jon’s so intuitive. So if I’m a bit irritable, he senses it and becomes horribly uncomfortable—and the last thing I want is to trigger his anxiety on the way to school.

To be totally honest, I experience these hard moments daily as a parent of a son who isn’t capable of learning how to reduce anxiety or perceive reality as it is.

Some days, before we arrive at the first signal light, Jon’s questions have already begun—persistent and anxious . . . and like a theology class:

  • How do I know if someone is saved?
  • When Jesus returns, will He have to die again?
  • What will happen to this world when Jesus takes over?
  • When and where will we be when the earth blows up and God’s in charge (his concept of end times)?

And sometimes, his questions are like this:

  • Did you call so-and-so?
  • What are our plans for each day this week?
  • When is my brother’s graduation?
  • When we will go shopping for his graduation present?
  • What will we get him?
  • Would you like to meet my new friend who goes to our church?
  • And? . . . And ?. . . AND!

Lover or a Fighter

Well, I blew it. My tone changed, and he could tell I was frustrated. My not-best self wanted to blame traffic, exhaustion, chronic pain, or whatever.

The problem with blame is it solves nothing and creates more problems. As Jon closed the car door and walked toward the school, he turned back to see if I was smiling and waving goodbye as I usually do.

He tries so hard to live in this world, so a simple smile or loving wave touches his heart.

Then it hit me . . .

  • Don’t we all ask the Lord the same question over and over and over when we are stressed?
  • Don’t we want to know what is ahead so we feel a sense of control?
  • Don’t we check and recheck things we feel insecure about?
  • Don’t we need to be assured of God’s love even when we feel unlovable?
  • Don’t we long for heaven amid these unsettled times?
  • Don’t our worries consume us on hard days?

I know the answer in my head; my heart battles with this sinful nature. I know to pray, to release my anxieties to God with thanksgiving, to find refuge in Him . . . I KNOW that stuff.

But I need help resting my heart, with the countless unknowns in this life. I need help from the One who never runs out of patience, who is never frustrated with traffic, who always reaches out for me to rest in Him.

When I spend time with the Lord, the One who splashes my soul with an eternal perspective, it becomes obvious that my son’s challenges are not very different from mine. In fact, all humanity needs God, who provides . . .

  • Forgiveness
  • Love
  • Acceptance
  • Patience
  • Joy

Ephesians 5:1–2 calls us to “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.”

Jesus Is a Morning Person


(Image from Pixabay)

Anxiety is the perception that one is in danger. Typically, anxiety manifests itself in the behaviors of people with a history of trauma or abuse, as is the case with my son and me.

Anxiety can also result from genetics, brain chemistry, lack of sleep, intense stress, or poor coping skills. In short, we can all be susceptible to anxiety.

The most frustrating symptom of anxiety is that the danger feels so real. Chemicals are released that cause one to ruminate (think on one or two things for hours), to question or repeat things over and over, to be forgetful, and to possess consuming preoccupation with something or someone.

Anxiety has always been a mental health concern, which is why the apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry [in other words, don’t be anxious] about anything; instead, pray about everything.

Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”  Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:7: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

Our Savior is aware of our proneness to anxiety. Tell Him about it. In my son Jon’s wisdom, he knew it was better to speak than to keep the weight of anxiety within him.

He talked to his mama . . . and in the same way, we can talk with the Lord. Jesus is a morning person! He said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29).

Let Me Hear from You

I’ve found helpful tools to help me cope and to help my son cope, but nothing provides the fortitude to walk through life like Jesus Christ. In Him, there is no fear.

In Him, we are loved, accepted, forgiven, welcomed always. Are you running to the only One who can fill your soul when anxious or impatient? Do others see the work of Christ in your life? Where do you need Him to fill you these days? I would love to hear from you today.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Leave a Reply

14 thoughts on “What to Remember When Your “Not-Best” Self Shows Up

  1. Give my love and hugs to the sharp dressed man Jon…..he was wearing a tuxedo the first time I met him at Stonebriar….I remember telling him he looked like Bond, James Bond….blessings kiddo

  2. Hello Colleen, another tremendous posting of your journey today. I did not anticipate reading your thoughts at this hour, yet found myself doing just that. God has it all planned out amazes me. Where He places us is no coincidence. Before I expand on that I have to say as you are aware I had terrible anxiety for a very very long time, truly a good bit of my life ,as it began to change only at 52 yrs of age . I was similar to how you describe Jon. I found the greatest changes for me was with all I had before me was Jesus and to come my accepting and receiving Jesus Christ and leaning into Him that was what you stated here throughout my anxieties, being hope that eventually became truth for me, in that “Are you running to the only One who can fill your soul when anxious or impatient?” and ” Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry [in other words, don’t be anxious] about anything; instead, pray about everything”. Colleen Swindoll Thompson “What to Remember When Your “Not Best Self ” Shows Up”. I learned this ,sometimes it is harder and I do reach out still to someone other than our Lord, ultimately I lean in harder and stronger when I know deeply that He is the only One to do exactly what it is for me that He sees is needed, soothing comfort all I find in HIm.I know I had told you way back when so isolated here and after viewing the War Room, that I created my closet to a War Room, and began crying out from then on when I needed Him so much,and forward do not need be in War Room, wherever I am I cry out to Him if I uncomfortable about anything,and trust He hearing me and seeing me that He will provide to me.
    It may be that I do not or had not known a mom as well as Jon does you, someone so nurturing and even on what seems like a part of your day not of your truest part of self that you believe is as gracious, yet I know clearly that is only inward self talk, and that your outward appearance is as gracious and kind as Jesus. I think that is why I would come to you when anxious, you are a most unconditionally loving woman,that for me on Earth the greatest of Imitators of Christ that I have known to date, I know I have shared this with you .
    Perhaps like you say regarding intuition, like when my intuition has been perceiving someone not as open and/or something happening without the smile I accustomed, maybe that which you have taught Jonand that I know I say within myself knowing yoru guidance with this, a seed was planted, that maybe that persons cat died today or something else is going on. I can hear you as the very best teacher and I have the greatest hope that Jon hears and will find this comfort in ways that you have helped HIm find Jesus. I believe also that it is the kind and loving embrace that can come later too that which all the loving of a mom will shine at that moment of the day before a long nites rest and/or after his school where you will reconnect and rekindle ,when the time allows for being present for each other in the way that we believe is most perfect in time,and that God allows for us,the moemnts that are so bonding,and for security and safety we come together to comfort each other. I am Thankful to our Lord that you and Jon have each other, as God has designed, of HIs amazing Love . God is the most powerful and amazing God .
    This morning this is what I had come to see before reading your post and after reading your post back to my questioning my ability to imitate our Lord? and if this was not my “not best self “showing up with this gal at Church or was it different to God? because different scenario of what seems come to me are those that may not respect boundaries set in friendship and/or not have healthful boundaries and I uncertain how to be what God wants of me in these times or situations? Am I my best self that He desires of me?, I saw the movie last nite, “Case for Christ”, these Christian movies are so very wonderful for me, i seek out every opportunity to pick one up to view. It is so confusing yet is the answer so clear, we are to love each and every one of us, how do we get around the brokenness not of someone invested in mother daughter love that you describe here, but someone just meeting or just learning not listening or hearing you? in different dynamic all together is my question.
    I found myself this morning reflecting i was going over what we always have discussed and glanced over my life in awe ,I saw an overview of all that has transpired with my relocating with my x husband and how I arrived in the southern state I live still and reflecting on how he was not comfortable with those around us that said “have a Blessed day”, and I could not understand how he could not appreciate this terrific way to great even a stranger at a gas station. He had moved as we divorced to far away state on border of Canada. I stayed,believing I needed good solid roots from having so many relocations over the twenty years with him. I realized there is absolutely no coicindence! ever. I was planted here and with family issues that truly pushed me apart from a state north I see now in awareness most of non believers, and this being apart for those years I somehow became aware of this bigger picture today , it is all to have me in the state I can receive our Lord and see and know Him and for what has begun to be a separation fo believers and non believers ,or at least to my awarenss as this is all in the Bible from ancient history this pattern, although now I am truly believing God has destined all this journey to prepare me to be able to be a disciple,and at Church now where I am placed learning the scripture and Bible stories simultaneiouly speak the same messages by so many authors,etc, so it is suddenly I see the purpose and path to gain this scripture for the times are in in need and only God would have known this way ahead of time and had my life coming to exactly where it is. I felt so amaxed and in in awe with God. I wanted to come and post with you early. I believed the gal from Chruch was a distraction that would keep me from where God leading me, still have question, and after reading this scripture again, this time in your post today”Ephesians 5:1–2 calls us to “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.””. COlleen Swindoll Thompson, “What to Remember When Your “Not Best Self” Shows Up”, , was this gal a distraction as my intuition was clear this morning that I need continue on what I see God leading with a course load ,or was now again He wanting something more of me with this gal iin the midst of all . When someone like the unhealthy friend that had stalked me and this gal at Church that may remind me of his darkness a bit, because of not being saved, were they distractions or was God wanting this verse to be in my spirit regardless of these individuals not listening to my boundaries? and how toxic non believers there need be this space so they can view the direction I am being led away from those that are needing our Lord to work out what is necessary for each of them? Where is the boundary ? I realize this is different than your posting, it is still similar for me as I learn how to Imitate our Lord and where to do so and if not heard I did do His work perhaps and the others of non believers have now a seed but it is no longer my responsibility but God to have them see and know Him . I know for example my family I saw healing, and I needed to have maintained my distance for some time as GOd worked through them changes and I continue to see areas of what only God could have had control to do with their replacing stone heart with flesh, as this is in scripture to pray for others as I have been doing for my family, to soften their heartrs.
    I did not want to get too far off of your thoughts. I hope that you can see where some of what you have shared can be sitting with me in my situation with my coming into many new relationships,and asking questions repeatedly that I have taken to our Lord to have greater wisdom and what His direction for me in these areas are. Your post is wonderful and where God wanted me to be listening this morning.
    I will be continuing pray for your comfort post surgery and have been praying too for your husband and Texans from Hurricane Harvey (which I believe also was not a coincidence that God led the hurricane there so that all the world could see the Love of Christians of Texas in action). I do pray that He not devastate so greatly with another storm,that the world did get the message of Love through disaster, and I pray foryour son Jon today COlleen for I know anxiety from my own history and can pray that the Lord will provide Jon with the warm blanket of Love around his shoulders and what He sees needed forJon’s comfort and peace today and with what sounds like many new areas of his life opening and what great questions by the way! As you say, how wonderful he knows to let them out and will help him manage the newness of so much information coming his way ,and brother wedding amongst so many thoughts of life as we know it changing .
    WIth loving care, Have agreat day today,

    • Leesa,
      As always, it is a joy to hear from you.
      You have some great questions….what are the boundaries, when is God calling me to step out and when to respect my internal gut which says this may not be best….? We all have those kind of questions…no one can answer them but you. We all have to ask the Lord for His direction, for His leading. Many things cross our paths that we take on because it fills an empty or hurt place in us; that is a distraction. Sometimes, we need time alone to heal and connect with Jesus like you have done these past few years. With the renewed connection with your family, I would assume it takes a lot of mental and emotional energy. It’s also developing healthy relational skills you didn’t have available years ago. Your growth here is magnificent! I encourage you to continue to ask the Lord to show you His will…CLEARLY….to direct your steps as you interact with others. You are so intuitive that it will be difficult to say ‘no’ to those who may be hurting because it’s so easy to take on someone’s pain. However, you aren’t called to carry another’s pain; you are called to be a light of hope and help…. ‘a city set on a hill’ from Matthew 5-7. Just know, in all your ways, you are acknowledging the Lord; revealing the source of your life’s strength rests upon God’s abundant grace. That is such a different message than what this world gives which is why others are drawn to you. I know, as you trust in Christ, He will lead you. I’m honored that you trust me with such questions. Let me know how things are going. Praying for your continued family growth…wonderful to know our God uses all things to reveal His magnificent power each day. Have a terrific day, Colleen

  3. This very weekend Jeff preached from 1 Peter 5:7 and we so often quote that first like this, ok God I’m casting my cares on you, why aren’t you doing something? But the verses that lead up to it are almost as important as the promise itself. Humble (submit) yourselves therefore under the Mighty hand of God that He may lift you up.(submit to the suffering) ouch!! Then the promise of vs 7 comes to fruition. Then the part about the enemy prowling around, he never takes a break. Resist him (and his anxious thoughts he brings) standing firm in the faith, ( I found the next part very comforting) Because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are having the same sufferings. My take, You are not alone in this. And your blog helps those of us who have those feelings of being alone and everyone life moving on to know we are not alone.
    You may ask like what does that have to do with our humanity. Well for me it was loud and clear. Because, often when I’m anxious the most, things go very wrong in our house. Really God, what did I do to deserve this suffering, help, is the part that keeps playing over in my mind. But I am lifted at the moments when I remember Job; who am I to question the potter? And when I submit myself (expectations) totally to God, I really cast my cares on Him and He takes them and lifts my head and my spirit. He doesn’t hold my humanness against me. Which as a planner kind of person makes the unpredictable life of mental illness and special needs very difficult. So thankful for your transparency and honesty Colleen. Helps us to be that way and encourages us because other brothers and sisters, as the scripture says are suffering too.

    • Lurlene,
      That is one of my most favorite and most humbling passages….I Peter. I too relate to the “planner” part you mention. How I had life planned out…how I learned my plans were more about my comfort/my reputation than being blindsided by God’s allowed will and trusting Him for direction. It’s so great to plan, to be responsible….it’s so awful when we learn our plans were more about us and wanting God to ‘lend us a hand’ rather than full surrender to God as we adjust and adapt to His will. And, it’s so great to know there is someone else who experiences the crazy-messy home front when we are trying with our best efforts to make things ‘calm’. All my best efforts caused my kids to feel anxious; it has been God who provided and provides the peace if I would just get out of His way!!!! Isn’t it great that we worship a loving God; not a legalistic, ‘follow every rule to be understood’ heavenly Father. I totally understand. Interestingly, I just wrote on Job…what an amazing, incredible, vulnerable man. Without guile, he trusted in the best and worst of times. I pray that for all of us….knowing I have a long way to go. I’m so with you! You sound like you’re in a good place. Great to connect, I love hearing from you! Colleen

  4. Oh Colleen, how timely your post was this morning. I am overwhelmed, exhausted, grouchy, and GROUCHY!! My sweet Noah hasn’t been sleeping much, about 2 hours a night… my patience has been wearing thin and I’ve needed many more “timeouts” for myself to regain control and bring my angry nature into submission. Sadly, I feel like I’ve been trying to do it on my own. There has been so much going on in the Winkle home these days that I feel like God only gets my last few breaths of a rushed prayer at bedtime! I’m so frustrated with myself, mostly because I know my Lord is there for me… waiting for me to run to Him. Thanks for sharing your words this morning, they really hit home for me. Hugs from a fellow “my best self didn’t show up today!”

    Julie Winkle

    • Julie,
      How good it is to know none of us are alone in having a ‘not best self’! My not best self showed up today as I drove carpool with a migraine. And, how gracious of our God to love us through our human places!!! I think this is where real life happens….when we can’t ‘muster up’ the strength and things are all messy…God stays in place, ever faithful and true in the midst of it all. The great news is that we are given by HIS GRACE a very forgiving God; calling us to higher places while understanding how fallen we are. From one not best self to another, you are in great company! Hang in there. Colleen

  5. Colleen, this was most helpful to me. Even though I am a firm believer in bringing all things to HIM. I fail misserably at this. I have the sin of feeling to be in control when I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious I become my “not so best self” and can become impatient with others. I pray that I can release this to HIM as I do not like this side of myself, especially around my grandchildren.
    My grands called me grumpy granny yesterday after I had to get on them for not obeying after numerous requests, which grieves me so.

    • Judy,
      Guess what…..? YOU have come to the RIGHT place!!!! Oh how our feelings can shift our attitudes and responses. I do the same…my tongue can become so sharp when I feel overwhelmed; I just need to wear a shirt on those days that says “I’m So Sorry”! And while we do have to correct kids and grandkids, when you feel that ‘grumpy granny’ emotion, stop and ask yourself “why am I feeling like this, what am I frustrated with, Lord what is your direction and wisdom here?”. I’ve found when I stop I the moment and seek the Lord, His embrace and peace provide direction. Please know you are not alone…you can write anytime and just let it all out. I understand and I’ll be praying for you right alongside my own prayers for getting rid of my ‘not best self’! Love you girl, Colleen